Wish You Would See It

Zach Braff’s “Wish I Was Here” is rated R – for mature audiences. The tit and jottle counters would say this is due to language and some sexual content. Whatever. I believe the rating is earned due to the story. It is written for an audience that has matured, not so much wise as simply older. You have to have lived a little for this story to truly touch you.

Aidan Bloom (Braff) is a man whose life hasn’t quite turned out the way he thought it would. Not that he knew how it would turn out but just that he thought by now (married, two kids in school) it would look different. His wife Sarah (Kate Hudson) works a crap job so he can pursue his dream of acting. His kids attend a Jewish school, tuition covered by his father Gabe (Mandy Patinkin). Aidan’s younger brother Paul (Jim Parsons) lives in a trailer by the sea, with aspirations of becoming a blogger. In some ways this feels like a scene from George Bailey’s Bedford Falls.

Then Gabe’s cancer suddenly returns. And instead of a man given the gift of going back in time to see his life without him in it, Adian is startled awake to the life he has right now, one full of failed dreams, and disappointments, and a dying father. In other words, his wonderful, wonderful life.

“Wish I Was Here” is not a great film. There were times when I thought what? But it is a good film, and that, in my opinion, is its greatness. This story caused me to stop and feel the weight of my life. It reminded me that we are only here for just a little while, and courage is needed for we must do what we can to help each other find our way home.


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The desire to grow without dying
reveals not all childish things have been put away.
This was the still and wounding prick
Peter felt during the cock-crow at dawn.
Boy, I bet that was quite the morning, huh? -
a warm-up crucifixion before the main event.
All illusions of hasty transformations were squashed
as the sun began its crawl over Golgotha.
There the stony disciple began his betrayal of
the gross inadequacy of speedy recoveries
in favor of the long difficult repentance
required to save the soul.
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Our Old Story

If everything wrong were righted today
my bet is that the thrill would last for a spell
but then somebody somewhere’d find something
less than acceptable about our almost-heaven.
Somebody somewhere’d swear a disparity,
this casting a shadow on their bright countenance,
this causing their hand to rise up and slay their
brother or sister or neighbor’s boyfriend’s cousin,
this squeezing a blood cry from a bucolic cornfield,
this starting a chapter in a new old testament as
some old timer somewhere’d say Here we go again.
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Old Jack

The beagle is outside again trying to eat
the bees who cannot quit our Russian sage.
No, this is not the beagle’s first rodeo and
yes, historically this has not gone well.
He always ends up bucked off with stingers
in his jowls and his dog-nity quite bruised.
I’ve had the won’t-you-ever-learn-pal?
talk with him many times now, and I do
suppose I will once more, for like the bees
that refuse to quit I too cannot give up on
Old Jack for when not face-first in the
purple sage he sticks closer than a brother.
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Consider These Things

Maybe St. Luke had thorns in his ears and
what the Lord Jesus himself really said was
It is more blessed to live than to deceive.
This, in my opinion, would truck with what
the spirit of the old book is really all about.
Stop the ruse. Drop the fig leaf. Quit trying
to shoehorn your life into someone else’s.
The blood that snaked down the foot of Christ’s
cross was a breakthrough pesticide designed
to seep beneath the surface of time and
choke fear at its roots. So please, consider these
things, and let not your heart be doubled.
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The Next Day

There are times when as a writer
you must practice forbearance.
Some evenings the pall of death
is so heavy halfway around the world
that you search for paper and pen
to try and make your sense of it.
Better to go mow the emerald grass
in diagonal rows and pull purple thistles
from the fence and startle the grey rabbit
beneath the shade tree and speak to your
very much alive neighbors as they walk by
while the summer wind chills the sweat inching
down your back and for reasons unknown
you suddenly recall the sinful smell of your
grandfather’s tobacco mingled with the
memory of the tears in your wife’s eyes
as the doctor placed your firstborn son in the
crook of her arm and life demanded on.
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Actually, scratch that.

The timeline’s different for each of us
but at some point you have to stop fighting
your parents or religion or 1950s America or
your no-good-son-of-a-bitch-ex-spouse
or quite possibly even yourself. Yes, yourself.
Signify this truce by beating your sword
into a plowshare. Actually, scratch that.
I propose beating it into windchimes.
That way you’ll be gently recalled to the
forgiveness when subsequent winds blow.
Those notes will be a charmer’s tune 
easing the air around you, an alarming
remembrance that by no means did you give up,
but that by choice you gave in to an older song.
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